Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Bicycle Thief

Of all the creatures that inhabit the planet we call Earth, there surely can be no form of life more lowly and despicable than the man who steals another's bicycle. The man who sets out with hacksaw, bolt cutters and malice aforethought deliberately and wilfully to cut loose and make off with that most sacred of objects is no more deserving of consideration or respect, and of no more use to society, than an MRSA microbe with syphillis. On the statute books of England, in the volume entitled Levels of Seriousness, the theft of a bicycle should be right up there with the murder of a constable and should certainly be considered to be of far greater heinousness than the assassination of the King himself, which seems to me quite trivial by comparison. To inflict a slow and agonising death upon such a person would be, in my view, to show a weak and lily-livered leniency.

I know what you're thinking: someone's nicked my bike. Well, it’s not quite that bad, but almost. The other day, you see, someone had it away with Nobby's bike.

Now Nobby Harris may go back further than recorded history, but for all that he is nobody's fool, and a man like Nobby takes nothing in life more seriously than the security of his beloved two-wheeler. Nothing. Not his job, not his family, not his own well-being, nor even his personal hygiene. Everything comes after his bicycle. He justifies this apparently perverse outlook with characteristic succinctness.

"Without his bicycle, a man cannot function in any meaningful way and is therefore of use neither to his family nor to himself."

Nobby is nothing if not a philosopher.

So his bike is not only chained to at least one immovable object whenever it is out of his sight, but is also protected by several deadly booby traps. Even looking at it can be hazardous to one's health. Standing Orders dictate that if Nobby's bike should be stolen, we merely listen for the screams and follow the trail of blood.

Imagine our delight then, when Albert Harness and I responded to a call that very afternoon from a man whose hands were bleeding uncontrollably and we saw, leaning against his drawing room wall, the unmistakable form of our esteemed Station Officer's trusty old three-speed roadster. Ignoring the man, whose fingers had been almost completely severed by the poisoned razor blades hidden beneath Nobby's crossbar, we returned triumphantly to the ambulance station bearing our prize to overwhelming gratitude and the promise of 'as much overtime as you want, lads' from our beloved leader.

It’s true what they say. You just can't do enough for a good guv'nor.